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Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Ubisoft
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Review
Review By @ 11:49am 30/05/13
Tall tales, we’ve all told them. How we caught a fish that was “this big” and how we were the eventual hero of multiple situations. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger takes the idea of spinning a tale to the extreme, following the bar-side rattlings of one Silas Greaves, a grizzled old gunslinger with as many stories to tell as shots of whiskey put before him. And with Silas, the tale gets much bigger in the telling.

In gameplay, this creates opportunity for some really smart and interesting narrative shuffling. The entire game plays out with Silas narrating over the top of the action, along with attendant questions and comments from those listening to him. A query from a patron might see Silas backtrack completely, rewinding time in the game and retelling/replaying the level in a different way, sometimes from the perspective of a different character. Rocks will shift before you as he mutters about “spying an escape I had not seen earlier”, while planks will fall down from the sky as he recalls running across rooftops under fire from endless outlaws. Greaves spins a tale that sees him supposedly mistaken for famous Wild West figures, such as Billy the Kid and Jesse James (and many more), thus ultimately responsible for some of history’s most famous shootouts and bounty kills.

Even though this is a download title, it feels fully functional and as deep as a retail release. As a shooter, it’s slick, fast and fun, with smooth aiming and movement and a deeply satisfying combo system that sees points appear on the screen for feats such as headshots, longshots and explosive kills. A slow-time mechanic builds up as you score kills and, once enacted, helps you to line up multiple varmints with your piece. During this mode, the environment is drained of colour and all enemies outlined in red.

Kills fuel an upgrade system that sees you spreading earnt skills and perks across three different tiers. I spent most of my points in making Greaves a badass gunslinger, allowing for dual wielding of pistols, greater ammo capacity and extra damage during focus mode. I also popped over to one of the other trees to unlock a perk that slows down time a little bit whenever I enter iron sights with a one-handed weapon.

If there’s another game to compare Gunslinger to, it would be Bulletstorm. Levels are clearly designed with Greaves’s unreliable narration in mind, so that waves of outlaws are positioned around the levels in order to heap upon you the greatest glory. One of my favourite levels takes place in an abandoned sawmill, and sees all manner of traps ready to squash clumps of enemies. The shootout at the end is also tense, taking place among stacks of sawn wood, with a boss flitting between the piles quickly and firing back with deadly accuracy. That battle has a real Metal Gear Solid feel to it. Other showdowns end up with the two of you facing off in a duel.

Levels are short but sweet and no single environment outstays its welcome. Nothing is static and entire levels can shift upon Greaves’s whim as he changes the story. In one instance, I explored an entire avenue of approach only to die, upon which Greaves exclaims that that would have been the stupid way to go – instead, he chose to approach from another direction. Another moment sees you play out an endless loop on a train while Greaves relieves himself in the privy, to the doubtful musings of his captured audience for those few minutes.

This is playful and witty in a way that very few games are. As a result, Gunslinger runs at a pace that is ever-increasing, a rollercoaster shooter that gets better with each level. There’s no mid-game slump because its focus is clearly as a low-priced release – although it could easily have launched on disc for $60 and still feel value for money.

Problems are few, relating mostly to frustrations of personal taste. I found that the enemies were a bit too accurate, able to ping me whenever I peeked out from behind cover – even from long distances. The graphics, whilst generally quite good and sporting a kind of half-cel-shaded aesthetic, feel a little bright and garish. It’s also quite difficult at times to pick out enemies from amongst all the similarly-coloured scenery. You have to watch and spy movement or use RB to highlight pistoleers in red. There are some moments when it’s not made clear where you’re meant to go, but this is usually solved by pressing the Back button to bring up an on-screen objective star.

The final major element of Gunslinger, the duels, will divide players. I found them a bit too awkward, as they require you to keep a moving target in focus as well as try and position your hand for a faster draw. Some instances also require you to dodge bullets whilst trying to aim and fire. Then there is one stand-off where you have to shoot two opponents before they get you. Still, the duels are an original take on the famous Western trope, even if it takes quite a few failures before you learn the nuances of the system.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a major surprise, especially given the mediocre reception of the last title in the series. Interestingly, there’s no Juarez mentioned at all in the story. Gunslinger embraces the franchise’s western heart and presents an action-focused shooter with all the trappings expected of releases three times its size. In fact, it out does most of those very titles and sits in my view as one of the best shooters to come out in recent years.
What we liked
  • Smart and playful with its narration and changing levels
  • Cool perks and enjoyable level up feedback
  • Starts good and gets better and better
  • Memorable boss battles
  • Arcade mode and duel challenges add even more value
What we didn't like
  • Difficult to pick out enemies
  • Duels feel too clumsy and take a while to get good at
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:35pm 30/5/13
I'd genuinely just passed on this because of its namesake and the poor entries in recent years, but after reading this review, I'm pretty keen to check it out.
Posted 01:57pm 30/5/13
Oh wow. Totally steve. I didn't even bother with noticing this.
Posted 02:12pm 30/5/13
It is a brilliant game, one of my most favourite this year for sure. The gun gameplay just feels so satisfying and the story is just beautifully told. Not to mention the environments are just amazing to look at.

I was very surprised going into, especially as Steve said with the last few entries not doing so well, but this is just a completely different game. Heartily recommend!
Posted 02:49pm 30/5/13
Interesting... for $18 I'll give this a shot.
Posted 03:09pm 30/5/13
After reading this review, this game as just gone on top of my must have list and so cheap too. Other than indie games, i can't think of many new releases i can buy for $18.
Posted 03:24pm 30/5/13
Definitely the most unexpectedly brilliant game I've played this year.
Posted 04:37pm 30/5/13
Eorl was raving about this earlier today, I thought he was going to actually cry when I didn't buy it immediately :)
Posted 05:11pm 30/5/13
After reading this review, this game as just gone on top of my must have list and so cheap too. Other than indie games, i can't think of many new releases i can buy for $18.

Farcry 3 Blood Dragon is another release from UbiSoft a that price point.
Posted 05:30pm 30/5/13
Yeah awesome game. although it suffers from the s***** fov syndrome, patch for it is on the way apparently.
Posted 06:38pm 30/5/13
Well worth the < $20

Should be more games like this!
Posted 07:29pm 30/5/13
Enska the fov can be changed already up between 80 and 110 with some ini tweaking, as well as the border thing can be removed.

The ini file for video settings:


Add new lines at the bottom of the file, under everything.

ForcedHorzFov(80) - Can be between 80-110

Edit: There was something related to Juarez in the story as well.
Posted 07:39pm 30/5/13
Do you need the original or is this a stand alone game?
Posted 07:56pm 30/5/13

Its like some weird cross between Bastion and Bulletstorm
Posted 08:01pm 30/5/13
Bought the game purely based on this review and finding out it's $18 ... having an absolute blast! Just a pure fun arcade shooting game. Brilliant! To think I would have passed on this gem.
Posted 08:18pm 30/5/13
Surprised @ this review.

Bound in blood was above average IMO but the cartel was complete s***. When i saw the <$20 price i assumed this was another s*** grab for cash.
Posted 09:28pm 30/5/13
^^ it's pretty much the polar opposite, I too was surprised at the price.
Cheers d^, settings work well. I wasn't a fan of that border but the rest of the game was so damn good It became irrelevant. I love how it takes the piss out of today's games, without forcing us to deal with those games arbitrary mechanics, and basically pissing in our face, a la Blood Dragon. Did I mention how much I love Blood Dragon? F*****g game.
Posted 10:03pm 30/5/13
I kind of phased the border out, and when I did notice it here and there it just added to the flavour of the game. I have to say dual pistols is my most favourite weapon, just so satisfying with the sounds and animations.
Posted 10:13pm 30/5/13
if only this would have been posted last night when i was looking for a new game to play

simcity was the worst choice, it's only fun until you realize how much like The Sims it is.

and the online gameplay (there's no other choice without messing it up with mods) is so hacked right now, a monster comes and stomps your city and then the game crashes. worse than what i read about it. i hate that i even paid half price for it from one of those cdkey websites.
Posted 11:53pm 30/5/13
Just getting into the Dueling mode game play atm and damn, so cool and frustrating all in one.
Soooo much fun.

Between this and Grid2 being out now, I'm gonna have to find some more time to play if I still want to play WoT competitively for cash
Posted 10:24pm 02/6/13
this game would be next level awesome if it had a Django Unchained DLC
Posted 06:08pm 04/6/13
this game does actually look pretty cool
Posted 10:42pm 04/6/13
Good game scored it highly and it looks good. Save this for a 50% sale on steam.
Posted 08:43pm 12/6/13
Man how good is this game??!! Definitely a sleeper hit this one. Highly recommend it, love the way the whole thing is told like reliving the story... brilliant
Posted 08:44pm 12/6/13
I am confused by the use of do you feel lucky punk in the thread title. Wasn't that a line from a cop movie?
Posted 09:30pm 12/6/13
I am confused by the use of do you feel lucky punk in the thread title. Wasn't that a line from a cop movie?

Do you feel lucky though, punk? And yeah it was, with Clint Eastwood. I actually tried to find a catchy cowboy quote but nothing really came up, and this kind of suited it with Billy the Kid being a character and all.
Posted 10:27pm 12/6/13
It's a hell of a thing killing a man.
Posted 10:45pm 12/6/13
lol @ outlaws jerry. Had the first level as a demo as a kid. Awesome game.

clint eastwood, from dirty harry.
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